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Craig, Johnson Bill to Address Forage Shortages in Disaster Years
Minnesota Ag Connection - 06/11/2019

U.S. Representatives Angie Craig (D-MN-02) and Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) introduced the bipartisan Feed Emergency Enhancement During Disasters Act (FEEDD Act). The FEEDD Act will provide farmers and ranchers additional emergency flexibility to help alleviate feed shortages during planting seasons with high levels of prevent plant due to extreme moisture or drought.

Currently, under the Federal Crop Insurance Program, producers that are unable to plant a crop due to adverse weather conditions are eligible to receive a small indemnity but are prohibited from growing a cash commodity due to a missed window in the growing season. The FEEDD Act would create an emergency waiver authority for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to allow producers to graze, hay or chop a cover crop before November 1st in the event of a feed shortage due to excessive moisture, flood or drought. With this waiver, producers would not have to take a further discount on their crop insurance.

"In the midst of a delayed planting season, falling commodity prices, and limited market access, Congress has a responsibility to provide farmers and ranchers the flexibility they need to do their jobs successfully. This bill takes a critical step toward giving the Secretary explicit authority to waive the November 1st harvest date for cover crops on prevent plant ground," said Rep. Craig. "While my colleagues and I will continue to work with the USDA to find Administrative ways to address this issue, Congress must take action on this long-standing concern with a long-term solution and pursue all possible avenues for relief. Additionally, by incentivizing the planting of cover crops, we're building resiliency and feed stability for farmers throughout my district. I'm proud to lead this common-sense, broadly supported, and bipartisan effort."

"Producers are already facing five years of declining net farm incomes and this wet spring has thrown another challenge their way," said Rep. Johnson. "South Dakota farmers are resilient, but they've made it clear -- a common-sense solution is needed to alleviate the feed shortage across the country. The FEEDD Act will allow Secretary Purdue to move up the November 1st harvest date on producers prevent plant acres. This simple fix will help ease our feed shortage, enhance the farm safety net, and improve soil health by promoting cover crops. Government can't control the weather, but we must do what we can to provide certainty to our farmers and ranchers. I will continue to work with the Department on an Administrative fix, but Congress should do what we can to fix this long-term."

"As farmers and ranchers across the country struggle through a difficult planting season, I am glad to see this common-sense approach to helping livestock producers and farmers alike through allowing the planting of crops for forage after the prevent plant date. This year so far has been unprecedented for American farmers, and this pragmatic approach allows farmers flexibility in the management of their land, while allowing for livestock forage to be grown," said Zippy Duvall, president, American Farm Bureau Federation.

"Unusually wet weather and widespread flooding have made this spring incredibly challenging for family farmers in ranchers. In many areas, it has been too wet to put seeds in the ground, which has forced many farmers to rely on prevented planting insurance coverage to make ends meet. While prevented planting offers a critical risk management tool, the November 1st harvest date prevents many farmers from utilizing a "second crop" as forage. We applaud Representative Angie Craig and Representative Dusty Johnson for introducing the FEEDD Act, which will provide family farmers and ranchers with important flexibility during yet another tough year for American agriculture," said Roger Johnson, president, National Farmers Union.

"With producers in South Dakota and across the country struggling to deal with the aftermath of natural disasters, the introduction of the FEEDD Act comes at a critical time. Early access to cover crops will help producers manage the worst impacts from this year's planting season. NBCA appreciates the efforts of U.S. Representative Johnson and the other co-sponsors to provide agricultural producers with much-needed relief," noted Todd Wilkinson, National Cattlemen's Beef Association Policy Division vice chairman, De Smet, S.D.

"Mother Nature dealt producers a tough hand this year, but Congress is taking steps to help. The legislation introduced by U.S. Representative Craig and the other co-sponsors will ensure that producers can use their cover crops in a timely fashion. This support is critical for hardworking farmers and ranchers trying to recover," noted Don Schiefelbein, National Cattlemen's Beef Association Policy Division chairman from Kimball, Minn.

"We commend Reps. Johnson and Craig for introducing the bipartisan Feed Emergency Enhancement During Disasters Act. This legislation is a helpful response to the feed shortage that dairy farmers have faced this spring due to intense floods. We urge Congress to pass this legislation without delay so that farmers and ranchers have the flexibility they need to navigate current conditions," added Jim Mulhern, president and CEO, National Milk Producers Federation.

"Planting cover crops in a normal year is just the smart thing to do, as it not only helps protect soil from water and wind erosion, but can capture and produce needed nutrients for the following year's crops. Due to this unusually rainy spring, we are facing the potential for a large number of fields to not be planted, and therefore, it is even more important that producers protect their soil with cover crops over the next year. By providing flexibility for when a producer can utilize cover crop plantings, the Feed Emergency Enhancement During Disasters Act will encourage the adoption of this important conservation practice while adding forage options as an additional economic incentive," said Tim Palmer, president, National Association of Conservation Districts, Truro, Iowa.

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